I believe that it is only fitting that the Prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, was born two days before we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith was charged with restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth to help the world prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In the early spring of 1820 Joseph Smith was pondering which church he should join, he was reading in the New Testament and gained some great counsel. He found this wise instruction, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
This scripture entered the young man’s heart with great power. “It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart” (Joseph Smith – History 1:12). Joseph followed the instruction and went to a nearby grove of trees to pray. While he was in the midst of praying, he “saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above [him] in the air. One of them spake unto [him], calling [him] by name and said, pointing to the other –This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith – History 1:15).
I find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to have the Father and the Son appear to me, but I have received confirmation of the Holy Ghost that They really did appear to Joseph Smith. I have absolutely no doubts that Joseph Smith really saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
President Thomas S. Monson teaches us that “No description of models for us to follow would be complete without including Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this dispensation. When but fourteen years of age, this courageous young man entered a grove of trees, which later would be called sacred, and received an answer to his sincere prayer. There followed for Joseph unrelenting persecution as he related to others the account of the glorious vision he received in that grove. Yet, although he was ridiculed and scorned, he stood firm. Said he, `I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it’ (Joseph Smith – History 1:25).” (A Future As Bright As Your Faith, , 387).
Joseph Smith was persecuted, imprisoned many times, driven from city to city, and eventually killed because he never changed his testimony about seeing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. His testimony was sealed with his blood on June 27, 1844, when an armed mob of 150-200 people attacked them in the Carthage jail.
Elder John Taylor was in the Carthage jail with Joseph and his brother Hyrum. He announces “the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch…. Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:1-3). He then proceeds to name some of the many accomplishments of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I appreciate the words of Elder Taylor for I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God.
I close this tribute to the Prophet with this testimony words by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I bear solemn testimony of the divinity of Joseph Smith’s call, of the magnitude of his accomplishments, of the virtue of his life, and of the security of his place among the great and honored of the Almighty in all generations of time. We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. Let us not forget him. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (Stand A Little Taller, , 374).
I honor and respect the Prophet Joseph Smith, just as I do all the prophets and apostles of the Lord, but I do not worship him. I worship Heavenly Father and His Son, even Jesus Christ. I know that the Father and the Son live. I also know that Joseph Smith is the prophet called to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ and to organize church of Christ, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I urge you to learn more about Joseph Smith and the gospel he helped to restore.